Designers and Dilettantes
by Dmitri Siegel
This fall, Elliott Earls, head of the 2-D Design Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art, will release his second feature-length film The Sarany Motel, which he produced, directed, stars in, composed the music for, and edited. Through his diverse body of work Earls has pushed the boundaries of design authorship perhaps more than any other graphic designer, but the field has changed a great deal since he released Throwing Apples at the Sun, his first major foray into film/music/design hybrid over a decade ago. The release of The Sarany Motel comes amidst a flood of self-published books, podcasts, zines, and blogs by designers.
It no longer seems quite as audacious for a designer to make a movie. Instead it raises questions like: Has the dominance of the "designer as author" model transformed graphic design into a vague form of cultural production?; and, Is the allure of the legitimacy of authorship pulling design away from the defining characteristic of the profession — the designer/client relationship?
Living in the Limelight: Art, Design and the Search for Authenticity
by Matt Owens
Originality and Authenticity are central components to the creative endeavor. As an artist or designer, one is confronted with the larger challenge of establishing your own creative voice and by extension, cultivating this voice over an entire lifetime. This is a tall order of course and there are many possible approaches. Looking at artwork in general, two primary approaches come to light.
by Ellen Lupton
“I’m rocking on your dime,” says the panda bear. The bear is sitting at a bar, a beer and a cigarette in front of him. His flat silhouette appears on a t-shirt by Geoff McFetridge, a young designer based in Los Angeles. McFetridge and his slouchy, working-class panda convey the attitude of an increasingly influential set of designers who want to shape the content and conditions of the work they do. “I’m rocking on your dime,” says the designer who sees the client as a source of capital for creating inventive work equipped with a cultural life.
Tracy Jenkins: D.I.Y.: Design it Yourself
by Tracy Jenkins
Design is, more than ever, a way to relate to the world around us. Our fascination with design, as both a process and an ideal, is reflected in the products and services that are increasingly available to the general public. We can customize nearly all the things we consume, turning mass-produced stuff into OUR stuff. We can custom-build cars online, download cellphone ringtones, and willingly pay a premium for uniquely-distressed jeans and one-of-a-kind courier bags. Buying has never been more ubiquitous — or arguably, more effortless — which may in truth speak more to the democratization of credit than the democratization of design.
The Brand Called Obama
by Ellen McGirt
"Whatever you do, don't hurt Barack" It was the afternoon of Super Tuesday, and the Chicago sky threatened snow. Senator Barack Obama had just returned to his hometown as voters in 22 states were making history by choosing between a black man and a white woman to be the Democratic nominee for president. The road-weary candidate put off calling fund-raisers or leading one last rally. Instead, he headed over to a downtown gym to play basketball with his nephew, his brother-in-law, and a few buddies. He needed to take a few minutes to chill out, and hoops was his therapy.
The Brand Underground
by Rob Walker
Aaron Bondaroff is 29, part Puerto Rican, part Jewish, Brooklyn-born and a high-school dropout. His life weaves through the most elusive subcultures of lower Manhattan. A-Ron, as he is also known, is one of those individuals who embodies a scene. "I'm so downtown," Bondaroff is fond of saying, "I don't go above Delancey."
Credit Line Goes Here
by Michael Bierut
Who designed this poster? Well, I did, of course. Basically. More or less.
Design is essentially a collaborative enterprise. That makes assigning credit for the products of our work a complicated issue. Take the poster above. When it's published, it's often credited just to me. But its genesis is a little more complicated.
Credit Where Credit is Due....Or Not
by Dmitri Siegel
I was recently in the bookstore and I saw a big green book called Broadcast Design. I was pleasantly surprised upon opening it to see some very nice reproductions of work by my former boss at Sundance Channel, Keira Alexandra. I was not so pleasantly surprised to discover that neither she, nor I, nor anyone who had actually worked on these projects was credited…at all. I couldn’t escape the feeling that this was not right, but I also couldn’t put my finger on exactly who was in the wrong. Should I be upset at the editor, for not demanding complete and accurate captioning information?; The publisher, for not fact-checking?; The VP of Brand at Sundance, who was interviewed for the book despite the fact that the work in it was done before she joined the channel? I had stumbled into a very murky area of design — attribution.
Designed for Business
by Craig A Elimeliah
Many young designers tend to start off on their own as a freelancer or small business owner in order to establish their footing in the industry. I think that this is a great way to establish an identity and to learn the ins and outs of the entire project development process. Going out and getting clients, billing properly and delivering on time can be a full time job on its own. Making sure specs are adhered to, programmers are hired out, money is in the bank and resources are being used properly are all important aspects of any project and should be seen as important if not more important than the actual design itself. When dealing with smaller companies you will find that assets don't exist or are delivered via fax or snail mail on paper! Images are often stolen from the web or misused, fonts and logos are not properly saved out and overall a general state of chaos is usually there to meet you as soon as the contract is signed, the euphoria of signing your first client quickly diminishes and now you're left with the mess.
Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business
by Chris Anderson
At the age of 40, King Gillette was a frustrated inventor, a bitter anticapitalist, and a salesman of cork-lined bottle caps. It was 1895, and despite ideas, energy, and wealthy parents, he had little to show for his work. He blamed the evils of market competition. Indeed, the previous year he had published a book, The Human Drift, which argued that all industry should be taken over by a single corporation owned by the public and that millions of Americans should live in a giant city called Metropolis powered by Niagara Falls. His boss at the bottle cap company, meanwhile, had just one piece of advice: Invent something people use and throw away.
The Life of the Party: Working Your Net
by Alissa Walker
Right up there with going to class, doing your homework and changing your underwear at least every other day, networking is a skill that’s absolutely critical to your budding career. Networking is the only way for people to associate a personality with your portfolio.
It completes your brand experience, if you will. And in your case, it can make the difference between getting blown off and getting a job. Any wanna-be designers with visions of health insurance dancing in their heads would be crazy not to indulge in a little extracurricular mingling with others in the field. Besides—and this is good news for you—the drinks are usually free.
Can design for contemporary jazz, world and experimental music have a meaningful partnership with the musical content?
by John L. Walters
Music design may not be the most lucrative area of design, but it often stirs the most passion. For many, it is the way they discovered graphics in the first place; their first teachers were Reid Miles (Blue Note), Vaughan Oliver (4AD) or The Designers Republic (Warp), say. Graphics can become inextricably linked with the music in a way that doesn’t happen elsewhere; powerful, iconic images that started on the drawing board or Mac of a music-obsessed, underpaid graphic designer will follow that musical content into the distant future, into formats unimaginable at the time of their creation.
Decoding Coldplay's X&Y
by Adrian Shaughnessy
At a time when invisible data streams of binary information fed straight to our desktops are doing away with the need for album covers, it's odd to find a record sleeve as the subject of media comment and speculation. Odder still that the album cover in question — Coldplay's X&Y — should contain binary data as its central motif. Prophetic or what?
The Rise and Fall of Rock and Roll Graphic Design
by Tom Vanderbilt
Browsing recently through a collection of "band fonts," my memory drifted back to Middle School where I, plastic Bic in hand, would spend countless hours carefully inscribing the covers of my Mead notebooks with the logos and signature fonts of my favorite bands: the bewinged logos of Van Halen and Aerosmith, the Ace Frehley-designed all-caps "KISS" with its lightning-bolt "S" letters (that to some were too evocative of the Waffen SS), the Tolkienesque Led Zeppelin and the three-dimensional Judas Priest, the sort of blurred courier typeface logo for Cheap Trick, not to mention the Bob Defrin-designed "AC/DC" logo (with its "high voltage" slash).
Building Your Portfolio Website: Six Things to Never Do
by Carl Alvian
So, you've got a corefolio posted; you've put together a nice PDF sampler; you've printed out a gorgeous little book to take to interviews. You're working your networks, both real and virtual, and so far...not much. Potential employers are looking over your work, and maybe they like what they see, but somehow this isn't translating into more gigs, or that one crucial interview.
I Was A Mad Man
by William Drenttel
In the winter of 1976, while still a student, I worked lunches at a Greek restaurant on Madison Avenue in New York City. Three or four days a week, a well-dressed gentleman in his 50s would come to lunch — strangely alone — and sit at the bar and order a martini. (And ultimately two more, but never three.) He managed to read the Wall Street Journal and eat a little lunch. I was his waiter and his bartender.
May I Show You My Portfolio?
by Michael Bierut
In the fall of 1979, prior to my last year of design school, on a trip to New York City, I went job hunting. I visited about six design firms. One of them, Vignelli Associates, eventually made me a job offer, and that's where I started my career one week after graduating from the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture and Art in June 1980. I didn't know it then, but that would be the last time I would look for a job.
Michael McDonough's Top Ten Things They Never Taught Me in Design School
by Michael Bierut
The Architect's Newspaper is my new favorite design publication. It's a 16-page tabloid that comes out about twice a month. It's literate and timely, a fast-paced collection of news, reviews and opinion from voices as various as Michael Sorkin, Peter Slatin and Craig Konyk, all beautifully designed (in two ruthlessly efficient colors) by Martin Perrin. And, best of all, it has a gossip column.
My own first time
by Steff Geissbuhler, Chermayeff & Geismar Inc.
So there I was, standing in the large lobby of the Marketing and Promotion Department of J.R.Geigy (now Novartis) Pharmaceutical Corporation in Basel, Switzerland, awaiting the arrival of Max Schmid, the head of the then-famous design department. The receptionist asked me to wait for Mr. Schmid who would come down by elevator to pick me up.
What do you look for in a designer? : Paul Budnitz, founder, Kidrobot
by core jr
1. What do you look for when hiring a designer?
Everybody who works at this company needs to function part time either as a designer, or at the very least as a critic that can help us to make creative decisions. Part of our creative process includes grabbing people who come from different places and figuring out whether or not a new design is undeniably excellent. My job is knowing who is needed for each project. I hire people that have passion for creating beautiful things, that are willing to be flexible and get themselves and their own egos out of the way when necessary. And that have a sense that Kidrobot is all about collaboration and making many decisions very fast under pressure. I have a tendency to kill projects that just aren't working, and that can happen after a lot of time and energy has been invested in them. We don't have time for people that are putting themselves first.
Internet Famous: Julia Allison and the Secrets of Self-Promotion
by Jason Tanz
And so a complicated symbiosis was born. Allison befriended Gawker's writers, dropping by the office in Chelsea or sending instant messages with passive-aggressive story suggestions — an upcoming date she was looking forward to, or the fact that Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz used to babysit her, or some faux humiliation. "She'd send these notes and say, 'Oh my God, I can't believe I posted this, it's so personal, please don't link to this,'" says Emily Gould, who wrote for Gawker at the time. "And I'd say, 'Are you sure? Because now I kind of want to." The writers, facing an unrelenting 12-posts-a-day workload, couldn't resist the easy productivity of a quick Allison item, although they usually took great pains to layer each story with a healthy coating of snark. Gawker's readers ran up the pageviews, even as they filled the comments section with requests to please, please stop covering Julia Allison. And Allison grew an ever-thicker skin, clinging to the freude and eschewing the schaden. After a few laps around this feedback loop, Allison could cross "become a cult figure" off her to-do list.